The former location of the Wachovia building on North Front Street has been vacant for almost 12 years

WILMINGTON -- As developments rise downtown, the parking lot on 101 N. Front St., in the former location of the Wachovia building, contrasts sharply with the last decade’s construction boom.


But that may change, according to Wilmington Development Inc. President Ed Wolverton, who says the current owner of the property plans to eventually develop the lot into a mixed-use facility.


The question, however, is when that will happen.


"They do have a long-term plan to develop the lot, but there is no time frame," Wolverton said, adding that height restrictions and parking availability are general impediments to building in the area.


Representatives from the New York-based firm that owns the property, 101 North Front Street LLC, could not be reached for comment.


Since the five-story Wachovia building was demolished in 2008 to make way for a condominium project, which fell through after the financial crisis hit, the vacancy in the scenic riverside location has polarized local residents and businesses.


"There are some that like having access to parking for workers and customers," Wolverton said. "There are others that would prefer to see a building there that has generated more economic activity."


Isaac Lazar, owner of the nearby Isaac’s Men’s Store, sees the vacancy as a lost opportunity.


"Well, I wish somebody was there," he said. "That spot is really the best in downtown Wilmington and it should bring in a lot of money."


The property has traded hands several times since the historic building came down in 2008.


Purchased for $6.5 million in 2007, the land was sold at a massive loss for less than $2 million in 2011 and then sold again for a smaller loss for $1.5 million at the end of that year.


The property value has dipped to just under $1.4 million as of 2019, according to New Hanover County tax records, though the parking lot on the property generates annual revenue.


Prior to being razed in 2008, the property had hosted development since at least 1955, when it was purchased by Wachovia


Shortly after it was demolished, the vacancy became a community art attraction when Dixon Stetler began her "Keys with a View" project, which invited people to hang keys on the chain-link fence wrapping around the property. By Christmas 2009, the fence had at least 20,000 keys.


They have since been removed.



Jonathan Haynes can be reached at jhaynes@starnewsonline.com or 910-343-2261.